Letter from the Editor
Welcome to Volume 6, Number 3, of HIM-Interchange (HIM-I)
A professional practice journal of the Health Information Management Association of Australia Limited
Welcome to Volume 6, Number 3, of HIM-Interchange (HIM-I)
The universities in Australia that offer health information management degree programs are very large, publically funded institutions. Their operations are governed by a raft of legislative and other rules and guidelines. Universities are also immersed in critically important curriculum, pedagogical, and other academic requirements. Furthermore, there are crucial links between universities and the peak professional body, the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA), with regard to profession-entry competency standards and external course accreditation requirements. In this article, we introduce some key aspects of these course delivery frameworks and explain their influences on health information management education.
One of the most important aspects of their education for health information management students is the ability to put the theoretical knowledge they have gained in university lectures into context in a healthcare setting. Through participation in practical placements, students undertake experiential learning, giving them the opportunity to apply what they have previously only encountered in the classroom. This is particularly important for students of clinical classification/coding, to enable them to use “real medical records” to read and abstract details for clinical coding, apply codes using the Australian Coding Standards and learn about the importanceof clinical coding in a hospital situation.
Health Libraries Australia (HLA) is the national health group within the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), representing librarians and information professionals working in all health sectors. It was formed in May 2001 out of the Medical Librarians Section of the then named Library Association of Australia. The vision of HLA is that all Australians benefit from health library and information professionals’ expertise that is integral to evidence-based health care. Since its inception, HLA has worked to develop a highly skilled and professional workforce with the capacity to deliver services and resources that support quality clinical care, comprehensive education and ongoing professional development for health professionals, and robust health and medical research. This article will discuss the role that health librarians play in delivering such services and how HLA has advocated for professional recognition as one of the health information professions.
As Managing Director of Management Consultancy International, the author of this article consults to seriously innovative organisations such as Insurance Australia Group Limited (IAG), Telstra, Qantas and Suncorp to energise their teams and develop a positive team culture. What these organisations value in her services is her ability to use the appropriate learning methodology to drive change and to develop managers into leaders. She is particularly passionate about the Women in Management program that she developed to build a strong cohort of women who are confident in taking the next step in their career development.
I entered my final year in the Master of Health Information Management course presuming that on the completion of my studies I would be working in a hospital as a Health Information Manager (HIM) or HIM-Clinical Coder (CC). My final year professional practice placement, at Monash University, provided the perfect way to see how HIMs can be involved in non-traditional areas of professional health information management work.
I currently work as a Graduate Health Information Manager Trainee at the Sydney Local Health District (SLHD). This position is part of the SLHD Graduate Health Management Program, which is a two-year development program that aims to accelerate graduates into leadership positions within the SLHD and the New South Wales health system. The program requires the appointee to enrol in and complete a Master’s degree. I have enrolled in a Master of Health Information Management course at the University of Tasmania, which I am scheduled to complete at the end of 2016.
Sitting in on a quality committee meeting recently, I wondered if all of us working in aged, community and acute care are sometimes a little too smart for our own good. Of course, “communication” was the number one problem for consumers – as it had been for the past year, and probably way before that. And it’s not only consumers who raise these issues; staff also consistently complain that they are not adequately informed about changes affecting them, often scuttling changes out of frustration at not being in the loop.
In 2013, Health Workforce Australia recognised the need to delineate the health information workforce (HIW), and improve data collection processes for this workforce. Existing workforce estimates from sources such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) census data and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) are unreliable and do not examine all occupations within this workforce. A focus group was held at the 2015 Health Information Workforce Summit to examine the need for a minimum dataset to allow data collection and monitoring on this workforce. Nine participants unanimously agreed upon the need to formally monitor and evaluate the HIW by collecting current workforce data. A national census of the HIW would capture the data to provide evidence for increased funding and support for workforce supply and configuration.
Professions Australia aims to be the unifying voice of associations representing the professions in Australia. Formed in 1971 by Councils for Professions in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, the federal Council for Professions today represents more than 20 professional associations which in turn serve more than 420,000 professionals. Incorporated as a public company in 1994, the state councils became branches – by that time including the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania – and in 2002 registered a business name in every state and territory to officially become the Australian Council of Professions Limited, trading as Professions Australia.
In 2014, I was approached to nominate to be a member of the proposed Global Health Workforce Council (GHWC), a “diverse group of health information leaders from around the world whose purpose is to oversee the development of an internationally applicable health information curricula and competency standards” (AHIMA Foundation, (n.d.). I was fortunate enough to be considered sufficiently experienced to be accepted as a member, representing the Western Pacific region. The GWHC has 13 appointed members representing various regions of the world and is aimed at ensuring equitable representation and expertise in health information management, health informatics and health information and communications technology.
As a founding member of the organisation, I recently attended the Pacific Health Information Network (PHIN) meeting on “Strengthening Health Information Systems (HIS) in the Pacific” in Nadi, Fiji, from 29 May to 1 June 2016. The Pacific Community (SPC) and World Health Organization (WHO) sponsored the meeting.